Evaluating universal design: can it be done?

People walking on a wide pedestrian crossing. They are blurred as if they are walking quickly.The intention of the principles of universal design is to give an overview of designing inclusively. But what does universal design mean and how do you measure it? What if there was an assessment tool for access and inclusion? Would this change the attitudes of designers to think about the diversity of the population in their designs?  If an assessment tool helps designers to think universally then this will be a step forward. The risk is that this type of research ends with yet another checklist and a “tick the box” approach by designers.

Researchers from Italy have tried their hand at finding a method for evaluating universal design in the built environment. Their research paper concludes that two methods are needed: the involvement of users, and the use of indirect methods such as checklists. They aim to continue their research into developing a tool for assessment of inclusion, and to “stimulate the continuous and lasting improvement of inclusion from a UD perspective through the application of shared and measurable data”.

The title of their paper is, Towards a Universal Design Evaluation for Assessing the Performance of the Built Environment, by Erica Isa Mosca and Stefano Capolongo

The article is from the proceedings of the UDHEIT 2018 conference held in Dublin, Ireland, an open access publication.